Friday, the 1st was Spirit Day at Nina’s school, and she dressed up as her favorite book character: Princess Leia (made this old Star Wars fan proud). Lucky her I had a figure already, so she got to take the accompanying R2-D2 to school. That night I got to conclude my survey of piano goddesses with Tori Amos. And she had a 90s throwback night, even finished my Little Earthquakes bingo (I’ve seen every song live now). We had dinner before the show at Ginger – not bad, but we’d try something different the next time we were stuck at MGM National Harbor.
Saturday I took Nina to Plaza America’s Fall Fest after her cheer practice and swim lesson for face painting and crafts, then over to Nutcracker practice. Monday I got an ad for a whisky advent calendar in my Facebook feed right after I got it as a gift. Good job listening in, Zucks.
Tuesday the 7th I was in early so I left early for a late lunch of tacos and a beer – the new Crooked Run Brewing in Sterling has a SeÃ±or Ramon Taqueria hidden inside (and Rebounderz is across the street). Thursday I got a spot on my face checked – luckily benign. That night I substituted kimchi for sauerkraut in a Reuben. 10/10, would do again.
Saturday Nina had cheer team tryouts (she made it), then that night we got a real night out thanks to Sue (who’d arrived the night before). We drove to the Hampton Inn in NoMa Union Station, then had an exquisite dinner at Komi (the reviews were right about the roasted goat and the dates stuffed with mascarpone). After a lovely full night’s rest, we went to the nearby Emporiyum, a pop-up food market next to Union Market. We enjoyed fried chicken with cinnamon-maple sauce in a waffle cone, shots of dumplings, and a doffle (a donut/waffle combo).
Friday, Jill, Sue and I joined Nina at school to watch a cute 2 song concert, then had Thanksgiving lunch with her in the cafeteria. Unfortunately the food was just as good as I remembered. That night I wanted to use up some roasted chicken and thought Pad Thai sounded good, but I only had peanut butter and spaghetti on hand, so I found a recipe for that. Once we were eating, Nina asked what it was, and when we told her “peanut butter noodles”, asked to try and liked it a lot.
The next day Sue drove home with Maddy, then we headed up to Philly for Friendsgiving with the Shantyfolke. We didn’t have much time there besides dinner and some cookie decorating after a late start and traffic. Maybe next year we’ll spend the night, but this year we’d made plans to catch up with Jill’s grad school friend Kelly near Hershey who’s oldest daughter is Nina’s age. The girls had a great time playing that night, and we took them to a nearby playspace in the morning so they could run around before we hopped back in the car, taking a slight detour to get Sonic.
Our friends Meg & Toby beat us home from Friendsgiving Sunday and Nina got to play games with them. I found out my dad was in the hospital with kidney and prostate issues so I went to visit him – happily he’d be discharged 2 days later. Jill worked late Monday so I got Flippin’ Pizza for everyone, then played an epic Settlers of Catan game with Meg & Toby. Tuesday I made “peanut butter noodles” for everyone and after Nina’s bedtime played Cyanide and Happiness plus Cards Against Humanity.
Wednesday I thought this captured Nina in a nutshell. Thursday the 23rd Jill took Nina to The Star so I could cook, then we had the usual spread for Thanksgiving, and Nina tried all the trimmings – she finally likes stuffing and gravy. Very weird being just us 3, though. Friday we went to the Reston Holiday Parade, then to Kennedy Center to see the touching musical Me… Jane, and finally had a scrumptious dinner at District Commons (pumpkin beer cheese soup FTW).
Saturday the 25th we started a week of Disney by going to see Coco (still with the Frozen short), then managed to finish packing with plenty of time before our flight to Orlando Sunday afternoon. We got to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort too late for anything but sleep – we were tired, plus Jill needed to be up early for her conference the next morning (we hadn’t planned to come back to Disney World so soon, but couldn’t pass up a deal where the room and her flight were paid for).
Monday was day 1: Animal Kingdom, and more importantly Stormalong Bay, the giant pool at our resort. But first we had to wait for our Amazon Now driver with our breakfasts and some medicine we forgot. After breakfast we explored the pool until Jill was done, got changed and had lunch next to the pool at Hurricane Hanna’s Grill (where the birds descended on Nina’s momentarily unguarded Pringles), then caught a bus over to Animal Kingdom. The only ride we didn’t have a FastPass for was of course the newest one with the longest line, Avatar Flight of Passage. We had a FastPass for the nearby Na’vi River Journey, so we did that and then started the line for Avatar Flight of Passage. Nina was a trouper and we made friends in line for the nearly 2 hour wait. But it was worth it, definitely the best ride I’ve ever been on.
After that we crossed the park to ride Kali River Rapids as it was getting dark – not fun getting the most wet, but the smoke and fire on the ride is more pronounced then. We took our seats for Rivers of Light and enjoyed the show. I’d screwed up and made a reservation at Boma for dinner, which was in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and not the park. But when we found out it cost us $20 each to cancel, we toughed it out for what turned out to be one of my favorite meals, an African themed buffet. Our ride home took us to Disney Springs, and we took advantage of that to do our shopping there – good decision, we never made it back.
Tuesday Nina and I spent another morning at the pool before changing and joining Jill and her Aunt Kelly for a meal at the Ale and Compass restaurant there in the resort. Then we walked over to Epcot to ride the Frozen Ever After ride and find a fun mariachi band in the nearby Mexican pavilion singing Coco songs – Nina was mesmerized. We rode the monorail over to Magic Kingdom where Nina got to meet up with Captain Jack Sparrow before we rode Pirates of the Caribbean. We were there for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Nina’s #1 request to meet Moana, who was only coming to the party. But I did my research and knew she was near the Swiss Family Treehouse, so Nina and I rode The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and then she dodged the spitting camel while we waited.
Moana was happily greeted then we had dinner along with what seemed like half the park at Columbia Harbour House. Later we rode the Haunted Mansion, which broke down for a couple minutes while we were riding it (Nina wasn’t too scared). Nina had said she didn’t need to meet any more princesses, but that changed quickly once we passed by where Aurora and Elena were greeting fans. We caught a show and a parade at Cinderella’s castle, then headed back to the resort.
Wednesday morning we didn’t have much time at Typhoon Lagoon because it was hard to get a certain child moving, but we got to go in the big wave pool and several giant slides. We all had lunch at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop before taking the boat over to Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Mania was a hit, as well as the live action Star Wars show in the center (Nina’s already a big fan of Rey). We were happily surprised that For the First Time in Forever now featured the songs from the new short. We rode Star Tours and caught the live Beauty and the Beast before Nina and Jill rode the Tower of Terror. Then we watched Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular before having dinner at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano Dinner (second favorite meal there) and watched Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! before leaving (Jill was delighted by the nod to Nightmare Before Christmas).
Thursday it was more pool time before it was back to Epcot on the boat for a full day. We found the line for Alice in Wonderland was very short as she was about to come out, giving us just enough time to make to the San Angel Inn for lunch. Delicious, but they didn’t seat us until 45 minutes after our reservation. Jill found Starbucks and Nina and I tried various soda flavors, then everyone enjoyed Soarin’ and Turtle Talk with Crush. Next Nina and I rode The Seas with Nemo & Friends, then Jill convinced Nina to get in line for Test Track and they enjoyed that. We headed to Germany to have dinner and a show at Biergarten, then watched some of the Candlelight Processional before walking back to the boat. It was nice to watch the Epcot fireworks from right outside our hotel before going inside to bed.